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North Carolina Enacts Campus Free Speech Legislation Based on Goldwater Institute Model

Phoenix—North Carolina has enacted legislation based on the Goldwater Institute’s model bill that will protect the free speech rights of the state’s public college students. The Restore Campus Free Speech Act creates a culture of openness on the campuses of the 17 colleges and universities in the University of North Carolina system, requiring them to be open to all invited speakers and banning the creation of “free speech zones.”

Released this past January, the Goldwater Institute model legislation affirms a commitment to free speech on public college campuses, prohibits universities from disinviting speakers, and creates a system of sanctions for those who interfere with the free speech rights of others. “Because of this legislation, North Carolina’s college students—no matter their viewpoint—can be confident that their right to free expression will be respected, as long as they respect the ability of others to speak freely as well,” said Jim Manley, senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and co-author of the model bill.

The North Carolina General Assembly approved the Restore Campus Free Speech Act by strong margins, including bipartisan support. Several additional states are currently considering legislation based on the proposal set forth by the Goldwater Institute.

“It is great to see North Carolina legislators come together to ensure that college campuses are places where all people can respectfully express their thoughts and opinions without fear of reprisal,” Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute senior fellow and co-author of the model legislation, said. “We hope North Carolina is at the forefront of many states that allow campus community members to have a voice—to speak, protest, distribute materials, and demonstrate without limiting others’ right to do the same.”

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